After more than two years, the option of international travel is back on the table for many New Zealanders. But how different will it look now? GoSee CEO Darren Linton explains how travel has changed since 2020.
It’s no surprise that visiting friends and family overseas – for the first time since the pandemic began, in many cases – is one of the key motivations for people travelling at the moment. Grandparents kept away by closed borders are finally getting the chance to meet their new grandchildren, some of whom will be walking and talking by now, while the students who graduated and turned 21 in the last two years are reuniting with whānau for well-earned and long-delayed celebrations.
Recently prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced that by the end of July our borders will be open to international visitors, holidaymakers and everyone else wanting a slice of our paradise. After a long couple of years, the announcement will come as a relief both for those missing loved ones and those who are just wanting to stretch the legs a bit further than Queenstown.
On a recent trip to Melbourne I experienced just how much has changed about travel since before the pandemic. Covid tests, vaccine and mask requirements have become the new norm when travelling through airports. If overseas travel is on your agenda any time soon, looking into what’s required when leaving New Zealand – and importantly, when coming back – is essential.
Getting there can be as good as being there with a GoSee rental. With thousands of vehicles to choose from, you can find the perfect one for your getaway at GoSee.
How do we make the most of travel now the country is opening up again? As the tourism industry both here and overseas bounces back from the stagnation of the last two years, we expect the influx of travellers into New Zealand to affect the prices of flights, transport and accommodation. But if you’re wanting to see a new part of New Zealand, there’s still plenty of time to do so before the borders open back up to tourists – while our best attractions are still relatively quiet and roads are clear.
Since 2020, New Zealanders have shown a lot of love for travelling in our own backyard. Tourism New Zealand reported in 2021 that domestic travel spending had grown an extra $1.1 billion compared to pre-COVID levels. In 2021, 63% of New Zealanders visited a new domestic destination.
Slower, more meaningful do-it-yourself trips have increased in popularity: hiring a car or a camper van and tackling whole regions at a time, making visits to family in the far corners of the country, with enough flexibility for unplanned cafe pitstops – add in the benefit of off-peak timing throughout the winter mean these local holidays can be cheaper, too.
But there are also those New Zealanders for whom the restrictions of the last two years have meant missing out on milestones, or taking a gap year to see some of the world. For these people, the border reopening represents a new freedom to do these things, and feel safe in the knowledge that New Zealand remains open for their return.
The heightened travel reluctance that Covid-19 created is still here, but for people intending on going global, resources like MicroCovid, and the WHO Covid map show where outbreaks are happening, and can help you plan your trip accordingly. Making sure your insurance covers Covid-19-related travel disruptions is important, as is checking on any new requirements for your destination, like pre-departure tests. And if we’ve spent the past two years realising that the road trip reigns supreme as a holidaying mode, why not take that thought to the streets of somewhere slightly more exotic? Maybe 2022 is the year you finally take that great American road trip from San Francisco to New York City, or along Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
For local tourism businesses that have spent the last two years relying on domestic tourism spend, the influx from July 31 will be a welcome change. Between the millions of international visitors coming here to explore our ski fields, do a great walk or just sit back and sample some of the world’s best wines, and the New Zealanders who have now become accustomed to exploring their own backyard, the local industry will only grow stronger in the back half of this year. And while there’s still work to be done, there are signs that maybe the normalcy many have been craving is finally starting to return.